It’s starting to look like a credible scenario that an increasingly unhinged Donald Trump might start a war, fire special counsel Mueller, and then argue, along with his Republican allies, that you can’t impeach a wartime President/Commander in Chief without jeopardizing national security.
It’s sometimes called the “Wag The Dog” strategy.
In the 1997 movie of the same title, Dustin Hoffman stars as an unpopular President facing dubious reelection prospects as he faces a sex scandal. Robert DeNiro, starring as a Hollywood producer, encourages him to stage a fake war and run on the campaign slogan “You Can’t Change Horse in Mid Stream.” President Hoffman snatches electoral victory from the jaws of defeat.
It’s often been said that Pres. Bill Clinton launching a missile strike on Sudan and Afghanistan on the day Monica Lewinsky appeared before the Grand Jury was a case of a President “Wagging the Dog.”
Real and Present Danger
In Trump’s case, the war could be real rather than fake, as well as much larger and more dangerous, perhaps even escalating to the brink of nuclear war itself.
In picking John Bolton as his National Security Advisor, Trump may have chosen the most warlike person in the country with prior foreign policy “expertise.” Bolton has recently written in the Wall Street Journal and spoken on Fox News, justifying a pre-emptive military strike on North Korea, bombing Iran, and advocating tearing up the Iran nuclear treaty.
Bolton was one of the most outspoken supporters of the disastrous Iraq War and, even today, believes it was the right decision to attack Iraq. Bolton’s positions fly directly in the face of Trump’s campaign positions, in which Trump claimed to have opposed the Iraq war and advocated a relatively non-interventionist foreign policy.
So why would Trump pick a National Security Advisor whose militaristic foreign policy views directly contradict much of what Trump campaigned on? The most logical conclusion is that Trump picked Bolton because Trump has now decided that it’s in his interest to start a war, whether in the Middle East, Korea, Iran, or elsewhere, -in order to protect his Presidency.
Changing Horses Midstream?
Following this logic, having commenced military action, Trump would then immediately fire Mueller, or at least Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
There would be an instant uproar in Washington and throughout the country. But Trump and his Republican supporters will argue, as in the movie, that “You can’t change horses in mid-stream.” Removing the Commander In Chief, they would say, endangers national security and puts our brave men and women fighting for our country on the battlefield in grave danger.
And it’s quite plausible that enough Republicans in the House majority could take up a cry like “You can’t change horses in mid-stream” to prevent Impeachment, or even block the start impeachment hearings, and, since a 75% majority in the Senate is necessary to convict, at least 25 Republican Senators would agree.
Bill Maher has a regular segment on his comedy show called “I can’t prove it, but I just know it’s true. I can’t prove my “Wag The Dog” scenario will play out, but it seems like at least a credible scenario.
And the fact that it’s at least credible shows the depths to which Trump has driven the Presidency and the nation. If something like this scenario does come to pass, God help us all.